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Kenya hanging in the balance as Rio Olympics ban looms

Wednesday March 30 2016

Legendary athlete Kipchoge Keino follows proceedings at the Athletics Kenya Weekend Meeting held at the Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret on May 22, 2015. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA |

Legendary athlete Kipchoge Keino follows proceedings at the Athletics Kenya Weekend Meeting held at the Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret on May 22, 2015. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

JOHN NJAGI
By JOHN NJAGI
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Kenya will most certainly miss the deadline set by the World Anti-Doping Agency to enact a law to criminalise the use of banned substances in sport.

The Anti-Doping Bill drafted by the government was introduced in Parliament yesterday. However, the National Assembly takes a 10-day break after the State of the Nation address by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday.

This means that by the time the MPs return to Parliament on April 11, it will be nearly a week after the April 5 deadline.

It will then be left to the World Anti-Doping Agency, which helped in the drafting of the Bill sponsored by Majority Leader Aden Duale, to decide on the fate of athletes who have been preparing for the event.

With intense focus on Kenya, Wada could recommend a ban of the country’s runners. This could potentially lead to Kenya being banned from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games that will be held in August.

On Tuesday, the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) chief Kipchoge Keino had passionately appealed to MPs to pass the Bill this week to save the country from a possible Olympic banishment. “If we fail to meet the Wada deadline of April 5, we shall be declared non-compliant to Wada Code,” Keino said in a press statement. “I am therefore pleading with our MPs to consider the future of this country, the future of the youth of this country, their legacy and spare no effort in passing this Bill into Law this week so that the President can accent it to Law.”

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The Bill provides for the imposition of heavy penalties on those caught doping or who prevent officers of the anti-doping agency from doing their job.

The proposed law provides for a fine of not less than Sh3 million or imprisonment of not less than three years, for a person or body, who unlawfully transports or transfers prohibited substances within or outside Kenya.

Similar penalties apply for individuals who stock supplies of products containing banned substances in an unlawful manner or “administer, apply or generally causes an athlete to use such substances.”

LIABLE TO A SH3 MILLION FINE

It also provides heavy penalties for a medical practitioner, pharmacist, veterinary surgeon, dentist, herbalist and other such professionals who prescribe a banned substance or methods to an athlete with the intent of doping.

Those found to have violated the provisions are also liable to a Sh3 million fine or three year imprisonment or both.

Also under this category, are those found to have unlawfully administered doping substances or methods to an athlete or acquires stocks or is found in unlawful possession of such substances. The Bill also spells out similar fines to physicians who “aid, abet or in any way encourage the unlawful use of prohibited substances in sports.”

Registered sports bodies who also aid athletes in doping or encourage them to use performance enhancing drugs also face reprimand, withdrawal of some or all services that are funded by public funds or benefits provided by the Anti-Doping Agency or the Sports Fund.

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